Thursday, September 17, 2015
The time has come again to put down your instruments of work, abandon your everyday life and prepare your taste buds for adventure. Yes, it's Great American Beer Festival week. And activities continue to multiply even faster than the breweries that are opening at a rate of more than one a week in Colorado.
Once again, I offer a summary of some of the highlight and can't-miss events leading up to and going around the four sessions of the GABF, which happens from Sept. 24-26 at the Colorado Convention Center. To get the rundown of absolutely everything that's on the calendar, I'd suggest you check out the good work being done by my friends at Porch Drinking, Brewtally Insane and Westword. But if you, like I, have a little less time to try to plan out a full week, let this serve as the 30,000-foot-level directory to the things you should consider hitting.
Without further ado, enjoy. And if you see me out at any of these places during the week, please say hi - and tell my wife and son back at home that I love them and will see them soon.
Friday, Sept. 18
5:15 p.m.: Denver Mayor Michael Hancock officially kicks off the 10-day celebration known as Denver Beer Fest at Factotum Brewhouse, with about 20 other brewers present. He promises to don his "brewing attire." Bring a camera.
Saturday, Sept. 19
* All day: Many bars will have tap takeovers throughout the week. But on the Saturday before the festival, I like to recommend the Thirsty Lion by Denver Union Station, as it's arguably the best sports bar in town to start. And for the next week, it is featuring six Odell beers.
* 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Flying into town for the event? Running today through Sept. 27, you don't even need to hop in a car before you start your beer journey. For $10, you get 10 2-oz. pours from your choice of 20 Colorado breweries right at Denver International Airport, ranging from Fate's easy-drinking Laimas Kolsch to Telluride's barrel-aged double IPA.
* 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Golden's Barrels and Bottles has carved a unique niche by serving its own beers and an outstanding cadre of outside beverages. Today, it turns two and celebrates with barreled and sour beers galore.
Sunday, Sept. 20
* 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.: The first specifically sour event of the increasing number is happening at Backcountry Pizza in Boulder. It promises 55 taps of sour beer of both the Belgian and American variety, some of which will be out before people finish lunch.
* 11 a.m.: Trinity Brewing of Colorado Springs starts a ridiculous week of events with a tapping of its Red Swingline wild ale raised on peaches and apricots. This precedes its Swingline horizontal tapping at noon Wednesday, its sour beer tapping at noon Thursday and its big beer tapping at noon Friday.
* 6 p.m.: Fiction Brewing of Denver taps its Sunny Boy Saison - a Brett saison brewed with rose hips - to launch a week of experimental tappings. Watch out too for a salted caramel wee heavy on Tuesday and a 100% Brett raspberry quad on Thursday.
Monday, Sept. 21
* 5 p.m.: The GABF kickoff party at Falling Rock Taphouse represents the unofficial shotgun start to the week. There will be vintage beers and beers made just for the occasion by local brewers. Just as fun, there will be a heck of a lot of brewers here.
* 6 p.m.: Those who live in Denver or may be flying in for the festival may not know that the city's south suburbs are going through a revolution in terms of craft beer. Living the Dream Brewing will be holding a bomber release party for its Bourbon Barrel Aged Helluva Caucasian Stout, and this may be a good time to check out it and its neighboring breweries.
* 7 p.m.: Freshcraft will kick off its week with a massive sour tapping. No, I don't have the exact list yet. But this is one of Denver's premiere beer bars, so expectations should be set very, very high.
Tuesday, Sept. 22
* All day: It takes some guts to open up your beer bar during GABF week. But that's exactly what Henry's Tavern, a Portland-based small chain promising 100 beers on tap, is doing in the old Virgin Megastore space in the Denver Pavilions after a few days of soft openings.
* 5 to 8 p.m.: Miss the Falling Rock party last night? Paramount Cafe is offering a slightly smaller one with 20 breweries expected but with a $15 cover charge that will get you access to good beers and good brewers wanting to talk about their beer.
* 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Want to really talk about beer? I will be moderating a panel discussion/debate at RiNo's Industry workspace about which European country has the best craft beer culture - Belgium, Germany or Italy. A suggested $20 donation gets you access to international beers plus locally made foreign-style ales from debate participants Grimm Bros. Brewhouse and Lost Highway Brewing. And I promise to keep this event, sponsored by the Belgian Consulate, lively.
Wednesday, Sept. 23
* 3 p.m: Those who live outside Denver may not realize that River North Brewery is one of the hidden gems of the city. This afternoon it offers up vertical tastings of its barrel-aged Avarice, a Russian imperial stout. And at noon Thursday, it will serve up its Quad five different ways, including four types of barrel aging.
*4:30 p.m.: Focus on the Beer has come up with one of the most unique annual events around the festival. Beers Made by Walking showcases libations made by brewers who were inspired to use wild ingredients they discovered on hikes. This year's showcase takes place at Our Mutual Friend, and tickets are $30.
* 6 to 10 p.m.: You should drink enough beer during GABF week to think everyone around you is funny. But Renegade Brewing teams with Sexpot Comedy to offer two hours of sampling beer, followed by two hours of brewers and brewery workers actually taking the stage and giving their best to be comedians. Tickets cost $45.
* 6:30 p.m.: The craft beer rock stars from Avery, Allagash, Dogfish Head, Lost Abbey and Russian River are teaming up to put on a five-course beer-pairing meal in the restaurant at the new Avery Brewing facility. At $125, it might be a bargain.
Thursday, Sept. 24
* 11 a.m.: Evil Twin Brewing has built a cult of followers around its variety of specialized and often wonderfully weird experiments like its Imperial Biscotti Break. Today it takes over every tap at World of Beer LoDo to show them off.
* 2 p.m.: Melvin Brewing of Jackson, Wyoming may make the best hoppy beers in America. Good luck trying to find them most of the time outside of the country's smallest state, however. Today, though, Falling Rock will be featuring them for an hour.
* 7 p.m. to midnight: Epic Brewing's 50 Firkin Fiasco is exactly what it seems - more than four dozen firkin barrels mixed with every ingredient the brewery can find to blend with its voluminous offerings. And the fiasco part? Well, many people do drop in after the GABF session ends.
*10 p.m.: Dogfish Head will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in style at Avanti Food & Beverage. Sam Calagione will break out 2006 vintages of 120 Minute IPA and Raison D'Extra, among other goodies, for the occasion.
* 10:30 p.m.: Avery's midnight breakfast at Euclid Hall is the stuff of legend after the first GABF session. It's $125, so, like the Brett Pack dinner, it's not for the light of wallet. But you will not leave hungry or thirsty.
Friday, Sept. 25
* Noon to 4 p.m.: Pints for Prostates puts on its annual Rare Beer Tasting at the McNichols Civic Center Building, offering 50 of the country's best breweries the chance to dust off long-forgotten beers from their cellars and pour them for charity. The event is sold out, however, so you'll need to find someone with tickets and kiss a lot of ass to get into this one.
* 2 p.m.: Colorado Plus offers the largest selection of only-Colorado beers in the area. And today it will put on the "Co-loveration Saisonation," a celebration of saison collaborations led by Trinity Brewing, in its Wheat Ridge brewpub.
* 3 to 9 p.m.: Denver Beer Co. once again hosts its Collaboration Celebration, offering up beers that it made with five breweries stretching from Montana to Michigan to upstate New York. The block is closed down, so the atmosphere should be lively.
* 10:30 p.m.: By the time Friday night rolls around, a lot of people will start to wind down their weeks with mellower but still beer-laden after parties. Left Hand Brewing and Fremont Brewing of Washington will host just such a gathering at Monkey Barrel.
Saturday, Sept. 26
* 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m: Need to get out of Denver at this point? Oskar Blues is offering excursions up to its facilities in Lyons and Longmont by bus on Wednesday and Friday too. But today's field trip - which features stops at both the Lyons and Longmont breweries, as well as the CyclHOPS Cantina and Homemade Liquids & Solids restaurant, may be the crown jewel for $100.
* Noon: Did you know that Upslope Brewing has become one of the 10 largest craft breweries in Colorado? Its tap takeover at Hops & Pie will give you a chance to experience an often-overlooked brewery at a west-of-downtown gem of a beer bar/pizza joint.
* 5 p.m.: Speaking of harder-to-find gems, Casey Brewing and Blending (that's Troy Casey pouring for me in the below picture) will be pouring its exquisite saisons at Falling Rock Taphouse. Faced with the choice between hitting the Saturday-night GABF session or coming to this, skip the GABF in a heartbeat.
Sunday, Sept. 27
* If you still have any taste buds left, you're among the lucky ones. But there are a couple of brunches and recovery parties across town that are worth checking out. Among the two best-looking: A special menu at Brazen with River North at 10 a.m. for $30 and a general recovery effort at 11 a.m. at Avanti, which features seven restaurants to help you claw back into normal life.
Labels: Avery Brewing, Barrels and Bottles, Denver Beer Co, Epic Brewing, Factotum Brewhouse, Fiction Brewing, Great American Beer Festival, Oskar Blues, Ratio Beerworks, River North Brewery, Trinity Brewing